if these are staples of action adventure videogames. The problem is that
we want to feel like Indiana Jones all the time, not just during the set
pieces. Emperors Tomb does a better job of letting you do everything
that makes Indy who he is than any Indiana Jones game before it, but
there are still a lot of problems that drag it down into the depths of
The story in
Emperors Tomb is just what you would expect from a title bearing the
Indiana Jones name. The game takes place in 1935 and follows Dr. Jones
as he searches for a Chinese artifact known as the Heart of the Dragon.
Along the way, there will be plot twists and double-crosses and plenty
of faceless thugs to beat up. There are also a bunch of Nazis running
around, of course, since this is 1935 and a story that involves Indy.
The story is interesting and youll explore several exotic locations
before the games end.
is an Indiana Jones game, the reason why people want to play is to
experience just what it is like to be Indiana Jones. Emperors Tomb does
an excellent job of letting you do pretty much anything Indy can do. The
most important part of this is definitely Indys infamous whip, and it
is recreated very well here. You can swing over pits or use it as a
weapon if need be. Using your whip to snatch a weapon out of an enemys
hands is fun, and smacking someone in the head and knocking their hat
off will make you laugh every time. Indy looks, acts and even sounds
just like he should. The game does a good job of making you feel like
Indiana Jones, but that illusion is destroyed the first time you come to
a jumping section or when you have to fight someone.
Like any good
action adventure game, Emperors Tomb tries to focus on exploration and
puzzle solving on top of a heck of a lot of fighting. This
tried-and-true formula doesnt quite work here, though, as the very
basics of gameplay are flawed. The exploration aspect is nullified
because the level designs are very linear. There is only one path
through a level and if there isnt an obvious exit around then you
probably have to find a switch that is "hidden" somewhere in plain view.
Extra ammo, health, and even key items on your quest are easy to find
because they just appear along the fixed path through each level. I
dont like it when games turn into stupid fetch quests, and I want a
little more challenge than Emperors Tomb offers.
levels is pretty standard adventure game fare. You run around and jump
and climb up on ledges, just like every other game. You can also swim
and there is a sneak ability that allows you to cross narrow ledges. The
ability to use Indys whip to cross chasms is cool, but it is hindered a
bit due to a questionable design decision. Whenever you can use your
whip to swing across a canyon, use your machete to cut through some
vines, or do pretty much anything else, a little icon pops up in the
corner of the screen that tells you exactly what to do. If it was around
just at the beginning and then you were slowly weaned off of this help
system, it would have been better. As it is, the game is made much
easier because you dont have to do any looking around to see where you
are or what you have to do. The health system in Emperors Tomb revolves
around water, which is pretty cool, but is imperfect just like the rest
of the game. You have a canteen you can fill up with water and then take
a drink from it whenever you need to. The problem with this is that
there are fountains for you to fill your canteen all over the freaking
place. This makes an already easy game even easier.
Emperors Tomb is interesting, but it would have been a lot better with
a few key changes. In true Indiana Jones style, you are allowed to use
pretty much anything you can find as a weapon. In addition to your whip,
there is a machete and a bunch of guns, but these arent the best
additions. You can also use shovels, chairs, and even table legs as
weapons. It is these weapons that provide the most fun in Emperors
Tomb, partly because they make a very satisfying smack when they hit but
also because they seem to do the most damage. You can also have Indy
duke it out with just his feet and fists.
There are two
problems with the combat here, though. The first is that all of the
weapons take an insane number of hits to actually kill an enemy. You
literally have to punch someone fifteen times before they die or shoot
them at least three or four times. Sorry to sound like a ten-year old,
but that is stupid and it sucks. Fighting multiple enemies is a pain
because while youre punching goon "A" fifteen times, goon "B" is
shooting you in the back with a shotgun and goon "C" is reloading the
pistol he just emptied into you. You are nearly invincible thanks to the
ridiculous amount of health replenishing water sources nearby, so the
game isnt difficult; its
just annoying. The second problem with the combat is the reliance on
guns. In the Indiana Jones movies, Indy very rarely uses guns and
instead relies on his wits or his fists to get him out of trouble.
Because the hand-to-hand combat is so horribly ineffective, you end up
relying on the guns you find to dispatch your enemies because it is
easier and a whole lot faster. The easiest way to solve this is to
simply speed up the fights and let Indy do more damage. It is just
boring and repetitive now.
Emperors Tomb does very well is having a lot of set pieces that give
you the same chills that the best scenes from the movies did. At one
point early in the game youll be walking down a corridor only to have a
trap door open and you slide down a long ramp into the next area you
have to explore. Another example is when you are being pursued down a
long hallway and you have to use your whip to cross pits and run and
jump as fast as you can in order to get away. These areas where you can
relive the movies are by far the best parts of the game.
It is too bad the game in between the set pieces is so boring and
un-Indy. The reason why the movies work is because you dont have to
watch Indiana Jones do boring stuff. You never see Indy do tedious
platform jumping in the movies. You never see him fall in stinky sewer
water for the twentieth time in the movies. And you sure as hell dont
see him refilling his canteen every few minutes. I can jump from tiny
platform to tiny platform all I want in countless other games. When Im
pretending to be Indiana Jones I want action!
The graphics in Emperors Tomb are nowhere near as polished as in the
Xbox and PC versions. There are lots of jaggies all over the
environments and the overall look of the game can only be described as
blurry. There are a lot of shimmering textures, and clipping is visible
all over the place as well. The character model for Indiana Jones is
well done, however, and is fairly detailed. He is also well animated and
things like jumping over to a ledge and hanging on by just his
fingertips look very good. The enemy characters arent nearly as
detailed and all end up looking the same after a while. The hit
detection is horrible, and it isnt uncommon for Indy to land a punch on
someone when it looked like he was hitting air. Add a cruddy camera that
makes the platform jumping much more difficult on top of all of this and
you have a graphical mess.
The sound, on the other hand, is surprisingly good. The music is
absolutely perfect and suits the action very well. Sound effects for
punches and kicks and gunshots all sound just like youd expect them to.
All of the cinema sequences are accompanied by full voice and it sounds
good for the most part. The sound-alike voice actor they got for Indy
sounds just like Harrison Ford, and that really adds a lot to the game
when the character you are playing as both looks and sounds just like
Indiana Jones and the Emperors Tomb is a mixed bag of both good and
bad ideas. The character looks and sounds like Indy, and sometimes the
game will remind you a lot of what made the movies so great, but the
gameplay is seriously flawed, and that completely ruins the experience.
The combat system is so annoying that oftentimes it is better to just
try and avoid fighting altogether. Die-hard fans of Indy will probably
find a lot to like about it, but this is a flawed game that really isnt
all that much fun to play. I would suggest renting Emperors Tomb before
you buy it.